Monday, May 31, 2010

R.I.P. Louise Bourgeois

My Vegan Mondays

Usually I love my vegan Mondays. But sometimes I wake up ravenous, wondering how I’ll ever get through the day without a giant slice of quiche or a hunk of cheese or a lovely, lovely pastry made with beaucoup butter and cream. Today was one of those days.

• Granola and soy milk
• Giant orange

• Quinoa salad with peas and beans
• Blé tendre salad (which I think Jo and I determined was a French thing—basically semi-hard bits of wheat kernels that are surprisingly delicious) with cucumbers, tomatoes and apples
• Two bananas
• A granny smith apple (told you, I was starving)

• Whole wheat pasta with lemon asparagus and toasted pine nuts - speaking of delicious, this dish blew my mind. I thought I’d be wishing I could add a touch of cream or some parm to it, but it was perfect.
• Dark chocolate mendiants – after my daylong hunger, I stopped into A La Mere de Famille on my way home and picked up four wee pieces of chocolate with nuts and dried fruit as an end-of-the-day treat.

Keys, please!

My, oh my. I’m going to have to get a garage with multiple bays in order to accommodate my growing car collection.

I saw this beauty in Saint-Germain last night and think it would be just the little roadster for jaunts up to Deauville.

Daily Poll: croissant or pain au chocolat?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Having a love affair with: The Jesus and Mary Chain

It’s been awhile since you’ve listened to them, no? Get on it, then!

Just Like Honey, Head On, April Skies, Far Gone and Out.. so good, so good.

A girl's gotta eat

My restaurant adventures have been pretty modest lately, and I feel like a lot of my meals have been mediocre. I hate this. Food in Paris is too good not to be bowled over, or at least totally satiated. Lesson learned? Always make reservations, always carry a list of go-to restaurants by arrondisement and never go by the restaurant’s name or image.

H.A.N.D.: 39, rue de Richelieu, 1eme

Went with: Sarah and Jo on a Thursday night
Had: Veggie burger & fries and a few bites of cheesecake
Impressions: In a word, disappointing. I had walked by this restaurant a couple months ago, located between Palais Royal and Japantown, and was stopped in my tracks by the cool design. With an American-inspired menu (eggs, pancakes and cornflakes for breakfast; every kind of burger imaginable the rest of the day), I figured it would be a fun place to eat and a cool crowd too boot. There wasn’t much of a crowd when we went (I suspect the restaurant does better at lunch), and the service was nice but horrendously slow and inattentive. Jo and I both had veggie burgers and wine; Sarah had the fried chicken. We all split a slice of cheesecake, and none of us were all too impressed. Oh well.

Breizh Café: 109 rue de veielle temple, 3eme

Went with: Connie and Nina on a Thursday night
Had: Small salad with a wonderfully original wasabi vinaigrette, veggie and egg galette and cider.
Impressions: We tried going here without a reservation the first night the girls were in town. No go. So we made plans to return and were happy we did. The concept and crepes are incredibly simple—which is why everything is so delicious. Pure ingredients, including authentic French butter (and lots of it), organic veg and eggs, fresh buckwheat batter, ensure dishes are top-quality and full of flavor. It’s a nice and casual spot for lunch or dinner.

Pramil: 9, rue du Vertbois, 3eme
Went with: A friend on a Wednesday night
Had: Two entrées for a meal: a cherry tomato and zucchini tart and shredded chunks of crab served with potatoes.
Impressions: This place had been recommended to me and a cross-reference of web sites confirmed that it’s a neighborhood gem. But, I don’t know… I wasn’t especially feeling it. The servers were nice and the chef made his appearance from the kitchen. But the space felt a little sparse and hollow, not particularly warm, which is how the food “felt” as well. Good, but not great. But maybe it was an off night.

Café Germain: 25 & 27, rue de Buci, 6eme
Went with: A friend on a Sunday night
Had: Fish and chips! Ice cream!
Impressions: I’m not a big Costes whore. Indeed, in this town where there are so many small and precious, refined and delicious spots to eat, why patronize the city’s kings of mediocrity? But I was invited, and, I must say, I did enjoy my meal. I can’t even remember the last time I had fish and chips, and the coating on the two pieces of cod was thick and crunchy and the fries were skinny and greasy (all good things in my book). We had to wait about an hour for our two scoops of ice cream and then about another hour for the check, the whole time watching our server bounce around like a headless chicken, but the DJ and Eurotrash kept us relatively entertained while doing so.

Café Constant: 139, rue Saint-Dominique, 7eme

Went with: After gushing about my first trip here with Bennie, I wanted to share it with Lionel and Sylvia, who seriously love their food.
Had: Started with a shrimp tart, but that sounds underwhelming if you could see the magnificence of the generous appetizer: Three succulent shrimp on a buttery pastry tart, covered in sauce and foam. For le plat, I had poached cod and buttery veggies. And dessert was the richest, stick-to-your-teeth chocolate quenelles. Mon dieu.
Impressions: True love. We sat upstairs, whereas Bennie and I sat downstairs the first time. I think I prefer downstairs, but overall the place has good energy—casual, friendly, always busy with a mélange of French and English, tourists and locals.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In season: asparagus

I had fat white asparagus for the first time last week at Au Vieux Comptoir. Today I made whole wheat pasta with green asparagus, parmesan, olive oil and lemon. Tomorrow, I will make my favorite quinoa with asparagus, oranges and dates. And on Vegan Monday, I will be really sad that I can’t eat Smitten Kitchen’s shaved asparagus pizza.

Weather check: give it back!

After last weekend's glorious weather, it's hard to put on a jacket again. Or skip the sandals. And break out the umbrella. But, that's what the next few days of cool and rainy weather call for. Soupire.

Champagne at Hotel Particulieur

"In the heart of historical Montmartre, between Avenue Junot and Rue Lepic, nestled in a secret passageway nicknamed the Passage du Rocher de la Sorciere (The Witch’s Rock Passage), a big white townhouse is hiding behind a discreet black gate."

It doesn’t mention the nearby view of the Eiffel Tower, but the web site of Hotel Particulier, describes its mysterious and charming entry pretty well.

And then there’s the property itself.

You enter in a darling courtyard, dotted with café tables and lanterns, cloaked by ancient great, big plane trees and covered in deep green ivy.

And the sitting room is the perfect blend of traditional and modern, comfortable and cool, homey but exceptional.

We didn’t play chess, nor did we have cocktails. The bartender only works on Friday and Saturdays, so we were cruelly forced to have champagne.

But, with the gentle reminder on the way out of what a perfect spot Hotel Particulier is for summertime cocktails...

...we’ll be gathering the troops and returning soon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Angles and light

Once in a great while, I take a photo that I think is damn good. Like this one of a quiet, gated street right near the Fondation Cartier.

Is it any coincidence I took it after seeing the Doisneau show?

French word of the day: soupirer

Def: to sigh


Thursday, May 27, 2010

116 Steps

This is how many steps up it is to my treehouse. Nina counted, and Connie confirmed.

I wonder how many steps it takes to burn off a pastry?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Second helpings

Did you save room? Because we have grand gateaux grace à Paris Breakfasts.

And petit gateaux (that would be cupcakes in Paris, my friends), by yours truly for the one and only HIP.


Pastries in Paris

Oh, twist my arm.

From the French classics... imported flavors.

If their beauty doesn't make you want to gobble them up...

...the presentation will.

As I like to say, pourquoi pas?

Weather check: a cool wind blows

A cold front moved in last night. Lightening and rain; wind and a 20-degree temperature drop.

I guess I don't mind so much—it will give me an extra dose of giddiness when the sunshine and warmth returns.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Vegan Mondays

I went a bit off the deep end this weekend—rhubarb crumble with a dollop of cream, dark chocolate with ginger, dried pineapple, dried apple, fish and chips, cake… ugh—so a healthy Vegan Monday was tres necessaire.


Mediterranean couscous (sundried tomatoes, avocado, roasted red peppers and zuchinni)
Dried figs

White and rosé

It started healthy. Didn't end so much that way.

Weather check: ask Milo

You know it’s warm outside when Milo takes to lounging around the apartment on his back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A single girl’s pretty perfect day

Errands and apartment-cleaning in the morning (no, I admit, not the most romantic way to start a day in Paris, but it got my control-freak tendencies and a couple things on my to-do list out of the way).

A bike ride across town, in the sunlight, through Place Vendome and Place de la Concorde. Down Avenue Montaigne. And a walk across Pont d’Alma. (Ahh, now that’s romance.)

A museum visit. To the Jean Nouvel-designed Musée du Quai Branly.

Green tea sipped with an omelette and apple-rhubarb crumble at the darling Les Deux Abeilles tea salon.

Back on the Velib. Oh, how I love you.

To Galignani, to paw at all the wonderful, pretty books… and to buy Lunch in Paris.

A respite in les Jardins Tuleries, where seemingly millions of people sauntered in the sun, and I sought a spot in the shade to crack open Elizabeth’s book.

Strolling, window-shopping and browsing a couple select boutiques in the first and second arrondisements.

An outdoor seat at my favorite café on rue Montorgueil with an evening Perrier, snacking on dried apple just purchased from À la Mere de Famille and delving further into American Vogue when I wasn’t distracted by the parade of people strolling by.

And to look forward to: a night chez-moi. Just me and Milo. Maybe a little Top Chef. With the promise of yoga and 80-degree weather tomorrow.


Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved my books. One of my favorite photos of myself, in fact, I was maybe 9- or 10-years-old, sitting on the ferry to Block Island: pink polo shirt, khaki shorts, white knee socks, grubby sneakers; my dirty blonde, banged hair, pulled back in a barrette to reveal my face, which was fiercely concentrating on the book in my lap. I was oblivious to the camera.

It was in Block Island’s small bookshop—maybe on that trip—that I discovered the Sweet Valley High series. This launched my years-long obsession with Jessica and Elizabeth and their cool high school friends (a prelude to my devotion to Felicity and Carrie and their crews?); a phase post-Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, pre-Stephen King and V.C. Andrews.

Although I still love books, I don’t spend as much time in bookstores as I did in New York (I lived three blocks from the Strand; it was nearly impossible not to regularly drop in to “browse” and walk out with four titles I had to fit somewhere on my bookshelves). Here, I am trying to live lighter and not accumulate as much. A visit to Village Voice or Shakespeare & Co or Galignani is just too tempting. But every once in awhile, I can’t help myself.

Oh! So! Many! Books! And so pretty!

It took all of my willpower to only buy one book this weekend: Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris. I have a strange, personal connection to Bard and her memoir, and I’ve heard many wonderful things about the book. I am happy to have it.

Two others that I recently read about are Molly Ringwald’s memoir, illustrated by Ruben Toledo, and chockfull of insights about aging and inner beauty. Sounds like a winner.

And Aimee Bender’s latest about a girl with the power to taste the emotions of the person who’s prepared her food. What a delicious concept!

What are you reading these days?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The week in pictures

It really was an exceptional week. The weather. The friends. The food. The pace.

I mean, I can’t even remember the last time I was slow at work. But this week was one, long heavenly reprieve filled with fabulous moments such as long lunches, practiced in the proper French way: outdoors, with meat and wine involved …

(no meat for me; asparagus is in season!)

A post-meeting drink at a café….

(with still more evidence of the Frenchies influence: "Cocas" and Perrier, bien sur.)

Breakfast meetings with croissants, and meetings on the rooftop terrace…

Champagne to celebrate our latest work, and…

Friday was Lady GaGa Day.

Don't ask. But needless to say, things at the office have warmed up.

In the evenings, I caught up with friends: Mel, Jo, Sarah, and Michael—my core—along with newer friends. Café terraces, hidden squares, les Buttes Chaumont as the spring sun fell…

The weather inspired good cheer and beaucoup Velib riding. Twice, I got to ride to the Champs-Elysée, taking a turn into Place Vendome for this awesome view...

I hope you all had a brilliant week, too!

Weather check: heaven

Lovely little moments from the week

• Spontaneous lunch at Nomiya: magical and delicious
• Spontaneous lunch at Au Vieux Comptoir: not as magical but, with killer burrata, also delicious
• Un petit dinner party, chez-Erica: wonderful and delicious food in a warm and cozy Parisian pad, with classic Franglais conversation
• Peonies—you should treat yourself to flowers when the beauty moves you
• Reuniting with Milo after my Portuguese adventure
• Finally buying a pair of Derbies
• Discovering an amazingly cool and obscure new pocket of the city with Mel
• Reading about SJP in American Vogue for a few moments at an outdoor café
Feeling warm in the sun after seven months of feeling cold
• Moet at work to celebrate our latest web site launch
• Friday: a good email day